Teams seek long-term solutions
By David Ohito and Abiya Ochola
For the first time, the mediation teams returned to a table together, a day after a historic power sharing deal was signed.
The Party of National Unity (PNU) and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) negotiators agreed on key proposals to seek long-term solutions to the political crisis.
But Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister, Ms Martha Karua, the lead PNU negotiator was absent from the talks, Friday, for the first time.
But her Foreign Affairs counterpart, Mr Moses Wetangula, downplayed her absence, saying: “What is important is that we had a quorum. She is engaged elsewhere.”
The teams agreed on the formation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and an independent committee to review the December 27 presidential election.
“The Independent Review Committee will be formed before March 15, together with a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We will be discussing the form and composition of the committees when we resume on Monday,” said Wetangula.
Comprehensive constitutional reform, electoral, legal and judicial reforms, land reforms, devolution, inequity, police reforms and tackling unemployment and poverty were also discussed.
The teams agreed to form a team of experts, both local and international, to come up with modalities for a faster constitutional review.
Mr William Ruto, a member of the ODM negotiation team, said experts would report to them by March 15.
“The negotiators felt that constitutional review was very urgent and we cannot run away from delivering a new constitution because it is what will anchor most of the issues,” said Ruto.
“The talks were fairly easy because the big issues are out of the way,” he added.
But a source privy to the talks said the negotiators failed to agree on the mode of reviewing the Constitution.
“Whereas ODM felt the Constitution could be reviewed by experts and passed by Parliament, PNU insisted on a referendum, invoking the law of precedence by citing the ruling by (Justice Aaron) Ringera,” the source said.
In 2005, Ringera ruled that only Kenyans could undertake the enactment of a new constitution, through a referendum.
Later, Mbooni MP, Mr Mutula Kilonzo said key recommendations were arrived at, including a referendum. “We will try to isolate and avoid divisive issues and build on what unites us,” he said.
Another agenda was the issue of land and the fate of the internally displaced persons (IDPs). “The resettlement of IDPs was also our focus because we want them to go back soon,” he said.
He suggested that when Parliament reconvenes next Thursday, it might defer debating the President’s speech and prioritise the enactment of agreed issues. “We might prioritise to debate the deal to put Kenya back on track,” he said.
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